Keeping students healthy so they can learn

New

About 40% of school-age children in Zambia suffer from treatable and preventable diseases that negatively affect their development, leaving them vulnerable to missing school and increasing the likelihood they will drop out altogether. Healthy Learners helps schools become child health access points by training select teachers as community health workers and linking schools with local health facilities. We’re contributing to Healthy Learners’ efforts to provide improved healthcare access to 285,000 children attending public primary schools in Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces by 2022.

Duration
2019-2022
Focus area
Access to Basic Services
country
Zambia
partner
Healthy Learners

Context

In Zambia, primary healthcare services are free-of-charge at public health facilities. However, health interventions in the country tend to focus on children under the age of five, often neglecting the specific needs of school-aged children. Community health assessments indicate that as many as 40% of students in Zambia repeatedly suffer from treatable and preventable diseases, including malaria, respiratory infections, worm infestation and diarrheal diseases. These conditions negatively affect the physical, cognitive and emotional development of the children and result in school absenteeism, poor academic performance and high dropout rates.

Action

Healthy Learners improves the health of school-age children by helping public schools operate as child health access points, training and equipping select teachers to become front-line health workers. The trained teachers are able to monitor student health, assess children who are unwell, administer basic medical care and refer sick children, as well as girls in need of sexual and reproductive care, to health facilities.

Expected results

We’re contributing to Healthy Learners’ efforts to provide improved healthcare access to 285,000 children attending public primary schools in Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces.

An evaluation of the Healthy Learners model found that it led to a 38% reduction in disease morbidity, to a 48% increase in deworming and Vitamin A coverage and to a 22% increase in health knowledge.

Long-term strategy

The Healthy Learners model leverages existing school and health facility infrastructures and systems, which reduces operating costs, promotes local ownership of the programmes and helps ensure its long term viability.

Having dedicated recent years to refining, evaluating and replicating its model, Healthy Learners is now working with the Zambian Ministries of Health and Education to incorporate it in the national school health strategy, starting with government schools and health facilities in Lusaka and Copperbelt Provinces